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A few questions about mixers.

Discussion in 'Microphones, Speakers & Audio Processing' started by KA9MOT, Sep 13, 2012.

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  1. KA9MOT

    KA9MOT Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'm looking to ad a mixer in the near future to my station. As I peruse many of the Pro Audio sites I see there are different types of mixers. Specifically, there are non-powered, powered and USB Mixers.

    I'm not asking for advice on which one to buy, I'm just trying to understand the terminology.

    My station consists of a MXL-990 Condenser mic, Behringer MIC200 Preamp (which I hope to replace with the mixer) to a Kenwood TS-570SG.

    Thanks for your help!
  2. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I think usually:

    Non-powered = does not provide "phantom power" to bias a condenser type microphone.

    Powered = does provide "phantom power" to bias a condenser type microphone.

    USB = features a converter for mike audio to USB, for use with a computer. If you're using your mike(s) with a transmitter, you don't need that.
  3. KA9MOT

    KA9MOT Ham Member QRZ Page

    OK. It must be a secret science.

    I have learned some things I'll post here.

    Powered means it has an audio amplifier (many with 500W), and jacks to plug in speakers.

    USB means it will also send your audio for recording, podcast or anything else you might do, to the computer via the USB port.

    Anyway, as it turns out, these mixers do allot more then I would have ever expected. Even the cheap ones.

    WB2WIK, thanks for trying....... I appreciate it!

    Hopefully the next person who has these questions will see this post.
  4. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    For a mixer? That would be a highly unusual definition. An amplifier that can drive speakers is never part of any mixer I've ever seen.

    This is as I said, but there's more to it than that. It can't "send" your audio via the USB port without first converting the sound from analog to digital. This requires active electronics in the mixer, and usually isn't necessary if the computer has an analog audio interface already (sound card). Even laptops have those.
  5. KA7GKN

    KA7GKN Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'll take a stab at the question...

    A USB mixer has it's output designed to specifically be connected to any USB port. For example you can go
    directly into your computer USB port. Behringer Xenyx X1204USB

    A powered mixer is nothing more than a "regular mixer" but it has an audio power amplifier built in. Behringer
    Euro-power PMP4000 800w per channel

    A non powered mixer has line level output with some offering a switch for mic level outputs. Behringer Xenyx X1202

    Some mixers are also available with battery power for remote usage.

    For Ham Radio audio rack use and processing you need any brand or style non powered or USB mixer.
    If you're not routing into a computer you can pass on the USB mixer style.

    typically...microphone...noise gate...equalizer/processor.....mixer...main mix out into radio line in or mic input
    The mixer will allow you to route the audio or insert reverb [minimal for the wet sound]

    Often the mixer can be placed in a way where you can choose different per channel etc
    or... route your playbacks or route a telephone patch etc.

    You audio chain is often delineated by the radio you're using and what your audio goals are.

    Visit and/or for more information in assembling an ESSB station.

    In some cases a mixer is really not necessary..for example using a W2IHY 8 band equalizer and his EQ-Plus
    system for one radio. In some cases depending upon the radio being used you may need a pad or the W2IHY I-Box.
    Visit his website for more details. He also now offers a means to select more than one radio known as the I-Plus.

    Finally visit Bob Heil's website as he offers a lot of information regarding a simple audio set up and answers questions
    regarding fighting RFI and eliminating ground loops etc.

    Enjoy the adventure and ignore the naysayers as this is part of the fun of ham Radio too.

    When you upgrade to Extra class stop by 14.178 ...sorry your license right now does not permit
    you to operate there. But listening in the peanut gallery offers you a way to glean some "stuff"

    Finally to understand ESSB/eSSB known as extended ssb audio or as some call it using the little "e"
    enhanced ssb audio got to WWW.ESSB.US

    John's website WWW.NU9N.COM should answer most of your questions

    Martin KA7GKN
  6. KA9MOT

    KA9MOT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Now we're talking. Thank you! That is exactly the information I was looking for.
  7. K4FLH

    K4FLH Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'm a retired soundman with 30+ years experience mixing music and theater . Please feel free to email me with any questions concerning boards and rack gear.
    I've seen some bad info here like, a non-powered board means it doesn't have 48 V for phantom. Non powered means that the board is passive with no amp built in.
  8. K6SPY

    K6SPY XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Behringer 1222USB

    Wondering if has anyone used the Behringer 1222USB that has a built in EQ? I'm looking to pick up the W2IHY EQ plus and was considering using this mixer with it for an older Icom rig. I was also wanting a large number of inputs to run all my audio through the mixer.
  9. KC8RLU

    KC8RLU Ham Member QRZ Page

    Steve, I'll throw in my 2 cents...

    I, too am an FOH (Front Of House) sound engineer, both volunteer and paid.

    As you've discovered, a "powered" mixer simply has an amplifier built-in. The only reason to use this would be if you are going to perform live in public and want to consolidate your equipment; also works great if you have a small band and don't need a lot of power to be heard.

    A "non-powered" mixer is considered passive and is basically the mixer without a built-in amplifier. For that, you'll need a separate amp if you want to use it for P.A. (public address) or live performance situations. You can use these non-powered mixers in a home studio and/or radio shack, plus it can be attached to a radio.

    USB mixers typically are non-powered, but there may be some powered mixers that have USB input only. USB non-powered mixers give you the flexibility and ease when linking a computer together with the mixer. This can come in handy when you need to, for example, record a QSO or want to use digital technologies like Echo-link or combine a live QSO with Ustream. The only real difference when compared to regular non-powered mixers is that you won't have to buy any additional USB or digital to analog interfaces, like the Tascam USB-122 or equivalent or similar.

    All mixers can be attached to your radio(s), but you'll either need to buy or make the special cables to do the job. Check first with your radio's manufacturer and/or authorized retailers to see if they have such cables available. If not, you'll need to figure out the pin-outs for both the microphone and headphone jacks to build the cable. (Rant: HEY! Can some of you radio manufacturers include USB interface(s) with future radios, so not only for easy programming or whatnot, but also for audio input and output, especially for situations like this?...If you haven't already done so...)

    Most mixers do have built-in 48+V DC Phantom power. This means you can use most condenser microphones with the mixer without needing any extra phantom power supplies. The mixer will send positive 48 V DC through pin 2 on the XLR mic cable, pin 3 will be the return signal and pin 1 is the ground. Your MXL condenser mic is set up that way, so there shouldn't be any issues using it on your mixer of choice.

    One thing to keep in mind is that you will find a lot of mixers that will have a single phantom power switch. What this means is that when the switch is on, every single channel input will have phantom power enabled; when off, phantom power is disabled for them all. Some mixers, like the Soundcraft GB4 or GB8 or Allen & Heath Mix-wizard3 16:2 for example, have separate phantom power switches for each of their channel inputs. This is nice, since you can just allow phantom power to go to a single channel of choice, instead of them all at once. My personal preference is to never use phantom power on dynamic mics, even if the experts and other manufacturers say it is perfectly harmless to do so. I find that the phantom power does affect the dynamic mic and/or it's sound overall for the negative. Plus, this is important if you or someone else decides to use a ribbon mic instead; phantom power and ribbon mics do not mix, a very deadly combination for that type of mic.

    I hope this helps.

    73s de KC8RLU.
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2012
  10. KA9MOT

    KA9MOT Ham Member QRZ Page

    If it has EQ built in, you won't need the W2IHY box, as I understand it. I think some folks use them for the noise gate.

    Cables are easy.
  11. KA9MOT

    KA9MOT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Wow, great advice guys thanks! Cables are no problem. I can make any cable I need.....

    I did run into a problem when I set this pre-amp up. Bob Heil said run through the 13 pin ACC2 jack on the back of my TS-570S. When I did, I could not get it to drive until the pre-Amp was turned up too high and the audio was seriously distorted. I works just fine when ran through the mic plug, but gain is turned all the way down and Output is set on the third notch from off (Behringer MIC200 Pre-Amp).

    I found 2 used (cheap) Behringer 802s tonight that I am going to buy (one for a spare), so I am hoping the mixer will resolve that issue.
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2012
  12. K6SPY

    K6SPY XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Thanks Steve, that's what I figured but since this is all new to me, I wanted to be sure.

    The 1222USB mixers retail around $225 and can be found new for as low as $168. That model seems to offer a lot for the price considering a new IHY EQ is about $270.
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2012
  13. KA9MOT

    KA9MOT Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'm still learning myself, but Bob Heil spoke about and showed us how to properly hook up a mixer on Ham Nation. He also spoke of getting a mixer with Parametric EQ. I haven't figured out what that is yet, but it is probably out of my price range. He demonstrated a Behringer XENYX 802 and said it would work very well and they are cheap at $50. I just found 2 used ones for $15 each.
  14. KC8RLU

    KC8RLU Ham Member QRZ Page

    A parametric EQ, in its simplest form, is a bit more elaborate compared to the standard bass and treble knobs you have on a home stereo. Typically, it involves 2 knobs for that frequency spectrum: 1 for the choice of frequency to gain or cut, and a second knob to increase or decrease the decibels (dB) of that chosen frequency. Some mixers will have a parametric EQ on just the mid-range frequencies (~+/- 800Hz-6Khz) and some will have them on all; bass, mid-range and highs (~ +/- 6Khz-20Khz), depending on the make and model specifications.

    There are times where this really helps in tweaking your sound, especially when you don't know what kind of radio receiver is on the other end. You might sound like you either have too much or too little of bass, treble or mids through the other radio, when you know you sound good in your shack. As you know, not all radios are built alike, thus the same for their received audio's quality. :rolleyes:

    73s de KC8RLU.
  15. KA0GKT

    KA0GKT Ham Member QRZ Page

    I agree; however when it comes to consumer or "Prosumer" equipment, the Madison Avenue marketing gurus often market stuff using terminology not generally used by the technical types. With the influx of IT based broadcast equipment, I face poorly described entirely mislabeled or idiotically named equipment from otherwise reputable companies all the time. The terms "Exporter and Importer" used in IBOC broadcast equipment is entirely backassewards to what I would have named the equipment...ah well, it is my bear to cross.

    The Mackie website uses the "Powered and Unpowered" terminology when describing their mixers:
  16. K6SPY

    K6SPY XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    For his own station, it looks like Bob is using a Alesis MultiMix 8 USB FX mixer ( I just ordered one and some other audio gear, but have yet to set it all up.

    • Eight-channel mixer with mic, line, and guitar-level inputs
    • 16-bit, 44.1/48 kHz stereo USB output for easy recording and playback from your computer
    • XLR inputs with gain trim, switchable high-pass filters, and 48V phantom power
    • Works with iPad via Apple USB Adaptor (sold separately).
    • 1/4-inch line-level inputs for instruments and high-impedance guitar input for direct-connecting guitars
    • Powerful EQ: three-band with sweepable parametric mids on channels 1 and 2, three-band on 3 and 4, two-band on 5 – 8
    • Built-in DSP effects with footswitch bypass control and Aux buss for external processing
    • Multicolor LED metering for visual level feedback
    • Main and headphone outputs with independent level controls
    • Class compliant, plug-and-play USB for Mac and PC interface without installing drivers
    • Includes Cubase LE software
  17. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Yeah, the "consumer" stuff does use "powered mixer" to describe what is actually an amplifier that just happens to have a mixer attached.

    In the professional industry, that's unheard least I've certainly never heard of it and I've been in the industry a long time. It's all consumer stuff, and we don't use any of that.

    "Powered" normally only described mixers that provide power to microphones (phantom power for condenser mikes, which are very popular and require it), and the "power" in this case is microwatts.:p

    The diff with the W2IHY boxes compared with many consumer mixers include that Julius' stuff normally includes a noise gate and better shielding/filtering, making them more suitable for use in strong RF environments, like around powerful transmitters. A lot of the cheapie consumer stuff doesn't, and may require additional filtering added by the user.
  18. WD5JOY

    WD5JOY Ham Member QRZ Page

    I know it is late in the game - but Bob goes in to his first installment on Mixers on HAM NATION EPISODE 36 --- he then adds to it in subsequent episodes which may take a little hunting to gind, but is well worth the time and effort. AUDIO is FUN - even on the high-dollar rigs!

    Old Man Don WD5JOY
    Senility Holding Firm !
  19. KA9MOT

    KA9MOT Ham Member QRZ Page

    I've seen it. It was this video and another one that got me interested in using a mixer to start with.
  20. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    FWIW, a cheap tape recorder is a better investment than an equalized mixer, for most.:eek:
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